Collingswood Planning Board Greenlights First Cannabis Dispensary


Acreage Holdings will transfer the license from their Atlantic City medical shop, The Botanist, to a recreational and medical adult-use retail facility along the southbound side of Route 130.

By Matt Skoufalos | March 26, 2024

Collingswood Planning Board approves Acreage Holdings cannabis dispensary. Credit: Matt Skoufalos.

Some four years after New Jersey voters overwhelmingly voted to legalize adult-use cannabis, Collingswood could cut the ribbon on its first dispensary by the fall.

On Monday, the borough planning board unanimously approved an application from multi-state operator (MSO) Acreage Holdings to establish a retail outlet at 35 E. Crescent Boulevard (Route 130), in the former Egbert Express property there.

Acreage, which operates “The Botanist” locations in Atlantic City, Egg Harbor Township, and Williamstown, will transfer the license from its medical-only facility on the Atlantic City boardwalk to the Collingswood site.

In Collingswood, Acreage will retail both medical and recreational adult-use cannabis products, including flower, vaporizers, concentrates, and edibles. The business will continue its cultivation and retail operations in Egg Harbor Township and its retail facility in Williamstown.

The Route 130 site affords Acreage “a great opportunity [at] that location,” Joe Olivieri, Acreage Compliance Manager for New Jersey, said. “[It’s along]  a major throughway; close to Philadelphia.”

Olivieri said the company is optimistic that business in Collingswood will be more fruitful than in Atlantic City, which wouldn’t approve recreational cannabis sales at its boardwalk location. The Botanist saw “only a minimum amount of business” there, he said.

Plans for the Acreage cannabis dispensary location in Collingswood. Credit: Matt Skoufalos.

The Acreage location in Collingswood will be staffed by some 14 employees, with six or seven per shift, Olivieri testified on Monday. Neither loitering nor onsite consumption of cannabis is permitted at the location. The shop also will offer dedicated retail hours exclusively for its medical-use customers.

Planning board deliberations included conversations about the existing amount of impervious coverage on the property, which engineer Sara Irick of the Camden City-based French and Parrello Associates described as a pre-existing, non-conforming condition.

Property owners plan to remediate that circumstance by adding greenery to the 3,000-square-feet property. During the course of the discussion, they also agreed to remove one parking space to provide additional greenery, going down from 24 to 23 spaces; the parking complement will also include an electric vehicle charger.

The Acreage property shares a parking lot with Universal Ballroom Dance Studio, the owners of which are simultaneously working on plans to redevelop that building as a cannabis retail facility.

The Egbert Express and Universal Ballroom businesses share a parking lot. Both want to operate cannabis dispensaries onsite. Credit: Matt Skoufalos.

In 2021, Collingswood structured its zoning to restrict cannabis businesses to the Route 130 corridor, which naturally limited the number of eligible locations for prospective retailers.

Yet even across a common parking lot, the owners of both buildings foresee ample opportunity to reach customers in a market that’s just finding its footing.

Although the New Jersey Cannabis Regulatory Commission has approved 1,800 applications, there are only 100 dispensaries in business throughout the state currently.

Those include retail locations in nearby Bellmawr, Brooklawn, Camden City, Deptford, Merchantville, Pennsauken, and Runnemede, with additional sites anticipated to come online in Oaklyn, and Haddon Township recently moving to authorize cannabis sales.

Olivieri said he is more concerned about assuring access to cannabis products for adult recreational and medical customers than he is about over-saturation in the market.

“The hardest part is securing locations,” Olivieri said.

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